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Guest Post by author Lizzy Charles … the reality of contests.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Guest Post


Hi everyone! I’m honored to be on Brenda’s blog today to talk about the reality of contests. Four years ago, I started seriously pursuing a career in writing. After revising my first manuscript for what seemed like a gazillion times (realistically, probably twelve at that point), I got serious about querying. I only sent out a handful, but ran straight into brick walls.


Then I discovered Twitter and the amazing Brenda Drake! Immediately upon stumbling into the Twitter online writing community, it was clear that Brenda Drake was (and still is) a person to follow for encouragement, tips, inspiration, and access to the elusive agents and editors through her contests. Brenda ran ALL the amazing contests: my favorite being PitchMadness and PitchWars. I remember taking weeks to perfect my first thirty five word pitch for her contests.

Writers block


The moment I pushed send to enter, I was nauseous. So insanely nauseous. I knew that if I made it into one of her contests, I’d have a shot. But I didn’t get in. That’s okay. There’s always next time. So I entered again. … And again. … AND… what’s that? You guessed it! Again!

And guess what? I never made it into a final round of anything! Every time I entered, I felt like I was putting my heart out there with my best work and biggest prayer and each rejection felt like someone jabbing their stiletto clear through it.

Seriously. I never got ANYWHERE in her contests. But striving to improve and the essential feedback from the glorious writers who volunteer to help Brenda with her contests is what made the biggest difference for me.


I took that feedback and held tight to the community I’d found through those contests. I became a better writer. My story became more appealing! Suddenly, I was getting agent requests off my queries and first 250. A small press even requested!

Fast forward to today, and my second novel, Perfectly Messy, is being released. My first novel, Effortless With You, is an international multi category Amazon bestseller.

I’m here not because I won contests or even succeeded marginally in contests.

I’m here because of what I learned from contests and the supportive writing community.

Thank you, Brenda Drake, for providing such a lush learning environment for writer’s everywhere!

Interested in Lizzy Charles’ novels Effortless With You and Perfectly Messy? They are available on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, and most ebook readers. Prefer a book you can actually hold in your hand and smell? Both novels are available in print via Amazon and available to order through many local bookstores if you ask. 🙂

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Lizzy Charles lives in the Twin Cities and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. When she isn’t raising her three children or caring for premature and sick babies as a neonatal intensive care nurse, she’s seeking refuge with her laptop, sparkling water, and dark chocolate. She married her high school sweetheart, a swoon-worthy musician, so it’s no surprise she’s fallen in love with writing contemporary YA romance novels.

Twitter: @LizzyCharles_

Facebook: Lizzy Charles Fan Page

Website: LizzyCharles.com


Filed: Books, Misc

  • What an awesome story!! I just started doing contests a few months ago. I can’t even put into words the amount of valuable feedback I have received by putting myself out there. I don’t know what I would do without it. I’m so glad I stumbled onto PitchMad one morning in March. It was the best thing I could have done for myself!

    Thanks to those who host these contests. The success stories that come from these contests are so inspiring. 🙂

    • Brenda Drake says:

      I’m so happy you stumbled on it and have received valuable feedback. There is so much to gain, even if you don’t make the cut. 😉

  • Traci Krites says:

    I need to do this!! Inspiring!!

  • Jeannie says:

    Great post Lizzy! I totally agree- Brenda’s contests are such a great place to learn and be inspired. Glad to know I’m not the only one who almost barfs after every “send” encounter 😀 Thanks Lizzy! Thanks Brenda…you rule!

  • Yay, submission barfing buddies! We could start a group…wait, Brenda has already banded us together with her amazing contests. I have also never gotten anywhere with a contest but have gleaned so much and as a result my story and query are transforming. Great post!

    • Brenda Drake says:

      I love hearing that the contests help even if you don’t make the cut. Thank you, Alexia!

  • Shaya says:

    What an inspiring article! This is the first time I’m participating in PitchWars and I can honestly say, even if I don’t get in, all the crit swaps are making my story stronger!

We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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